Latterly, however, the judges have been somewhat more tender of the rights of patentees, to which improved conduct the writer perhaps indirectly contributed. He was opposed, during the passing of a patent for some gentleman, on the ground of the studied obscurity of the title, and he was required to render it more explicit; this, however, he declined doing, as a compliance would be equivalent, in effect, to a publication of the specification, as it was for one of those simple discoveries in which a word more of explanation would have exposed the object to those from whom it should be kept secret. This fact he satisfactorily proved to the Solicitor General, who admitted the necessity of the course taken, and the opposition was defeated. It was at the same time respectfully intimated to the Solicitor General, that if any additional information in the title were insisted upon, the patent would be declined altogether, and the intended manufacture be removed to France, where security against piracy would be afforded at the instant of lodging a petition.
The case mentioned is, however, an extreme one, and of rare occurrence; in most cases there is no difficulty whatever, though prudence dictates, that so important a step as the proper definition of an invention, on which the patent-right is founded, should be well considered.
The next step is to draw up a petition to the king, which contains a reiteration of the affidavit, and prays for the grant of the patent "for the term of fourteen years, according to the statute in that case made and provided." Here it becomes necessary to explain that patents for England, Ireland, and Scotland, are entirely separate and distinct from each other; and that when it is required to extend the grant to the British possessions abroad, the latter are included under the patent for England, at the additional cost of about five pounds. Supposing the application he for England alone, the prayer of the petition is expressed for "England, Wales, and the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed;" and should the Colonies be desired (which is rarely advisable), it is only necessary to add to the words just quoted, "and all your Majesty's Colonies and Plantations abroad." The petition, with the affidavit, is lodged at the office of the Secretary of State for the home department, for the king's pleasure, who directs, or rather is presumed to direct, the Secretary of State to refer the matter to the Attorney or Solicitor General for his advice thereon; the petition is, accordingly, endorsed with such reference, and signed by the Secretary of State, and, upon the payment of the fees, delivered to the applicant, who uses his discretion as to whether he had best take it to the Attorney or Solicitor General, being guided in his decision by the probability as to which of the two will execute the business with the least delay, and in the manner most satisfactory to the applicant.
Upon receipt of the king's reference at either of the before-mentioned legal functionaries, the clerk examines the caveat book, to ascertain whether there be any existing caveats against the granting of a patent for a similar object to that expressed in the applicant's petition. If there be none, the clerk takes the earliest opportunity of drawing out the report in the usual form, to be ready for the examination and signature of his principal. The report thus completed, is, upon payment of the fees, delivered to the applicant, who transmits it to the king, through the medium of the Secretary of State's office. Before attending to what is done with it there, it is proper to notice the proceedings that would be taken in the case of there being interfering caveats; - and we may observe, by the way, that there are always numerous caveats against such inventions being patented as that expressed in the example of the affidavit we have furnished. Under these circumstances, the Attorney General's clerk (whose office, we will suppose, we have entered by preference,) writes a circular letter to each of the caveatees, informing them of the application, and adding this injunction,-" Should you consider the above to interfere with your caveat of [mentioning the date], an answer, post-paid, is requested within seven days of the date hereof, otherwise the patent will proceed." When the seven days have expired, and none have thought proper to answer, the applicant is entitled to his report; but should any answer, or "oppose," as it is called, such opposer must deposit with the Attorney General's clerk a sum equivalent to the expense of the hearing and the summonses (generally under five pounds). The Attorney General afterwards appoints a day when he will hear the rival inventors, or their agents, (and to these are sometimes added counsel, who are, however, generally only an incumbrance in nice points relating to practical mechanics,) and each of these is summoned for the appointed day.
When met together, the Attorney General first calls in the applicant, or his agent, who explains to him alone, and confidentially, the nature of his invention, and the leading points upon which he rests his claim of originality. The caveatee, or caveatees, are next heard in privacy; and if the Attorney General cannot make up his mind upon the first hearing, the rival parties are called in again alternately, and re-examined until he is satisfied. If he finds the inventions to be essentially alike, he refuses the patent to either individually, but offers them a joint patent, if they will unite their interests in one this recommendation, though rarely, has been sometimes adopted, and attended with advantageous results. In the case of the inventions being essentially different, the opponent is told so, and the applicant receives his report. A few days after this report has been delivered to the Secretary of State, a royal warrant is prepared, which is signed by the king. This warrant, which recites the prayer of the petition, the legal advice given to His Majesty, and other matters of form, concluding with directions to the Attorney General to prepare a bill for His Majesty's signature, is taken to the Bill-office (an office exclusively appropriated to the engrossing of patent bills, under the superintendence of the Attorney General,) where it is prepared in the course of a few days, or a week, and then delivered to the applicant, who takes it to the Secretary of State, to obtain the king's signature to it.